Deep Restoration

By Erin Bird

Let’s continue our series on Psalm 23. This week, we come to verse 3, which says:

“He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.”

Sweet Restoration

The first phrase in verse 3 is short, simple, and sweet. “He restores my soul.” Due to its brevity, you might be tempted to move on to the longer phrase. But let’s take a moment to look at the first part bit-by-bit.

First, think about the word “restore.”

This word assumes something is broken. If you read through many of the psalms that David wrote, you will see he was quite aware of his sin and general brokenness.

If you aren’t willing to admit your own brokenness apart from Christ, you can’t be “restored.” To be “restored” acknowledges you aren’t all put together yet.

Second, who does the restoring?

“He” does. Who is He? As we’ve already seen, Psalm 23 is about the Lord being “my” shepherd.  So the “He” in verse 3 is God.

This is important to realize. Too often, we think WE have to work to clean up our act. We mistakenly believe we need to make ourselves stop swearing so much, or stop spending money so recklessly, or stop gossiping at work, or stop looking at people with sexual lust before we can come to God. But King David tells us it is GOD who does the work of restoring us. We just simply come to Him as a lamb comes to his shepherd.

Third, what is restored?

According to David, our “soul”is what God restores.  According to Skye Jethani, when David uses the word “soul” in verse 3…

“We should not limit the word soul to mean the non-physical self, as if God cares for only part of us. “Soul” is often used in the Old Testament to mean life or the whole person.”

As a good shepherd and loving Heavenly Father, God doesn’t care only about your spiritual state. He cares about all of you.

Restored to Walk

Now, let’s look at the second half of verse 3. David says that God restores us so He might lead us in paths of righteousness. And why does He do this? Two reasons:

1. Our Sake

The gospel tells us that without Christ, by default we have broken and imperfect lives. Our souls are split, our spirits dead, and we are lost and separated from God. Without God sending Jesus to be the Perfect Lamb sacrificed in our place, we would remain separated from Him. So it was out of love for us that God sent Jesus so we might be restored.

2. His Sake

But David shockingly points out in verse 3 that God’s restoration of us wasn’t simply for our sake, it was actually for His name’s sake! God actually finds joy in restoring you through the gospel. He is glorified when one of his lambs is healed and restored. It brings honor to Him and causes His reputation to radiate throughout history and cultures.

So if you are feeling broken today, run to God. Let your Good Shepherd restore your soul, first inwardly, then outwardly, knowing you will not only find comfort and joy in the arms of your Shepherd, but He will have joy holding and restoring you as well.

Content with the Shepherd

By Erin Bird

After spending the first three weeks in verse 1 of our series on Psalm 23, we are going to spend this week on verse 2, which says,

“He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.”

How to be a Content Lamb

I don’t know about you, but when someone offers me ice cream, it’s difficult to turn the offer down. Sure, I may have already had some ice cream that day, and my expanding waistline indicates I should pass, but one can always go for more, right?

Perhaps your weakness isn’t ice cream, but you most likely have something in your life you desire to consume all day. It could be your phone, YouTube, Pinterest, Diet Coke, chocolate, or just about anything. Well, the “weakness” of a sheep is grass and water. Just as I wish I could eat ice cream every day, sheep graze all day on grass, and when given the opportunity, they’ll drink their fill of water.

But notice David the Lamb in Psalm 23. David says his Shepherd makes him lie down in green pastures. (The Hebrew actually says “lush” pastures.) Normally, a sheep would eat the grass in a lush pasture. But not David.

Sheep walking on a grassy hill near a mountain lakeLikewise, David said his Shepherd leads him beside still waters. Normally, a lamb would pause to drink from the cool pond waters. But not David.

Why isn’t David “the Sheep” eating and drinking when given the opportunity? Because his contentment isn’t found in the grass and water. His contentment is found in his Shepherd.

Remember last week in verse 1, David said, “I shall not want.” We saw the reason he didn’t “want” was because his Shepherd was enough. That’s why, as a “lamb,” David doesn’t need to eat the grass and drink the water. He is so content in his Shepherd, knowing that his Good Shepherd will continue to take care of him, that he can rest in the grass and enjoy the view of the water.

Too often, I act like a needy lamb, constantly looking for more grass and water. But what would it look like if you and I actually looked to Jesus the Good Shepherd, finding our joy and serenity in Him rather the things of this earth? We might look more like a lamb happily resting in the pasture than a fearful lamb scrambling to eat as much as possible before we head back to the pen.

Can you trust Jesus? I encourage you to daily (and even “momently”) express your trust in God in prayer, declaring that He is enough. Remind yourself that true rest is found in Jesus, and not in your movies, or the games on your iPhone, or a higher income, or more ice cream. After all, if a hungry needy sheep can be that content in his shepherd, I want to be that content in Jesus.

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